NFL: Week 15 Picks

Carolina continues to stand alone atop the league at 13-0.   But there’s a new number 1 in the AFC, as the Patriots reclaimed the top spot after both Denver and Cincinnati faltered last week.  The Panthers, Pats and the Cardinals have now clinched playoff spots.  But with nine others up for grabs, there’s still a lot on the line here in week 15.

My week 14 record was 9-7, pushing my season total to 118-90. Time to take a look at my week 15 picks.

Thursday Night Football

  • Buccaneers @ Rams: St. Louis is coming off their first win since week 9, while Tampa hurt their wildcard chances against the Saints. Both teams are just looking to finish strong at this point, and while I think this game will actually pretty good, as both teams are capable of keeping games close, I think the road team has the edge and stay in the playoff conversation. TAMPA BAY WINS

Saturday Night Football

  • Jets @ Cowboys: Thanks to two straight wins, New York finds themselves in the final AFC wildcard spot ahead of Pittsburgh.  At 4-8 the Cowboys still have a shot, however small, the NFC East, which is why they haven’t put Tony Romo on IR.  So both teams actually have something to play for despite the four-game difference in record.  That being said, the Jets are healthy, hungry and have a quarterback on an upswing, so I’m taking the road team to get their ninth win in pretty easy fashion. NEW YORK WINS

Sunday 1PM Games

  • Bears @ Vikings: Chicago continues to just play out the season, while Minnesota remains firmly in the NFC playoff picture.  The Vikings lost in week 14, but they still have a shot at the division thanks to a week 17 match-up with Green Bay.  But they have to take care of business this week and next week against New York.  Look for another big day from Adrian Peterson on the ground against a bad Bears defense.  MINNESOTA WINS
  • Falcons @ Jaguars: The downward spiral of the Atlanta Falcons continued last week against the Panthers to the tune of a 38-0 drubbing for their sixth straight loss.  As for the Jags, they had their best game of the season on both sides of the ball against playoff hopefuls the Indianapolis Colts.  And for a team that once had a chance at the division, and now will miss the playoffs, that’s not a team the Falcons want to face to break the skid. Atlanta’s defense hasn’t been bale to stop anyone, and with Jacksonville feeling good about themselves and a slim chance at finishing . 500, I see the losing continues for the birds another week.  JACKSONVILLE WINS
  • Texans @ Colts: Is this the be-all-end-all for the AFC South title? Technically no.  But with just three weeks left, it is absolutely huge .  Houston needs this one more, as an Indianapolis win gives them the season sweep and what amounts to a two-game lead.  The Colts defense had gotten better after a very bad start to the season, but that all came to an end in week 14 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Add a 40-year-old quarterback suffering from a number of injuries, and you have a recipe for disaster.  Enter the Texans and JJ Watt who are looking to rebound from a bad performance against the AFC leading Patriots.  HOUSTON WINS
  • Panthers @ Giants: An undefeated Panthers team comes into New York looking to say that way, while dashing the Giants playoff hopes.  And while they’re better in every facet of the game, don’t underestimate Eli Manning and that offense.  In Superbowl seasons, the Giants have had to start playing playoff type football in the regular season, and the 11-year QB has shined.  I always like to go out on a limb, and while I might be bias, I’m taking New York to shock the world (though a blowout loss will not suprirse me one bit) at home this week. NEW YORK WINS
  • Titans @ Patriots: New England took advantage of big AFC losses last week to regain the number  1 seed and now they have a good shot at holding on to it.  The Pats have been ravaged by injuries and still find themselves atop the league. Tennesee is in the running for the number 1 pick once again, and coming off a blowout loss to another AFC East team.  Mariota and company have shown glimpses of offense greatness, but I don’t see them outscoring Brady. NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Bills @ Redskins: Despite identical 6-7 records, Buffalo finds themselves three spots out of a playoff spot, while the Redskins hold the tiebreaker in the NFC East. Washington barely hung on in week 14; the Bills dropped a close one to Philly. The QB play will define this game, and Kirk Cousins has been great since being named starter, while Tyrod Taylor has been inconsistent. I’m taking the home team to stay atop the division another week.  WASHINGTON WINS
  • Chiefs @ Ravens: Kansas City is the hottest team in the AFC and they get a down and out Ravens team this week.  They can’t let their guard down, but with a great defense and a QB in Alex Smith who isn’t making the big mistakes of old, there’s no reason they shouldn’t make it eight straight wins. KANSAS CITY WINS

Sunday 4/425PM Games

  • Browns @ Seahawks: Cleveland is one of three teams tied for the worst record in the NFL at 3-10.  Seattle might be the scariest team in the league right now, looking like the two-time NFC champs they are after an 0-2 start. Russell Wilson is playing better than any QB in the league and the Legion of Boom is back and ready to dominate the Browns up-and-down offense. SEATTLE WINS
  • Packers @ Raiders: Oakland picked up a huge win in week 14 against the Broncos, keeping them in the playoff conversation.  Green Bay also helped their cause last week, putting a full game between themselves and the Vikings in the race for the NFC North. I was impressed with the Raiders defense, particularly Khalil Mack’s ability to get to the quarterback.  They’ll need a lot of that in this game if they want to take down the Pack.  But even if they do, I still like the Packers to take this one. GREEN BAY WINS
  • Broncos @ Steelers: Denver is coming off a disappointing loss to the Raiders last week, but still hold a two game lead in their division.  Pittsburgh is in position for a wild card at 8-5 thanks to two straight wins, but need at least one of two teams to falter.  As much as I like the grit the Steelers have shown this season, I like Denver to bounce back and keep themselves in the running for a bye week. DENVER WINS
  • Dolphins @ Chargers: Two of the more disappointing teams take the field in San Diego this weekend.  Miami’s off-season work on defense hasn’t yeiled the results they wanted, while the Chargers defense hasn’t helped matters for Philip Rivers either.  This could be a shootout, and since I like Rivers more than Ryan Tannehill, I am taking the home team to get the win on Sunday. SAN DIEGO WINS
  • Bengals @ 49ers: The loss of Andy Dalton is a huge blow for Cincinnati, but despite the loss last week, AJ McCarron looked pretty good coming off the bench, and with a defense in San Francisco that allows a lot of passing yards, he could put up a nice performance in his first start this week. CINCINNATI WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Cardinals @ Eagles: The birds take over Sunday Night as these two NFC playoff hopefuls look to better their resumes. Philadelphia enters action tied atop the NFC East.  They’ve shown the ability to win close games of late, but they have also been blown out on more than one occasion this season, and now they face a team that knows a thing or two about blowing teams out. The Cardinals have been atop their division all season and have already clinched a playoff spot, but they’ve still got a lot to play for, so they won’t be taking their foot off the gas pedal this week. Give me the red birds to pick up their 12th win and stay in the running for the number 1 seed in the NFC. ARIZONA WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Lions @ Saints: When the schedule came out, I thought this would be a game that could decide an NFC Wildcard berth or even division seeding as I had both of these teams making the playoffs.  But instead, both are well under .500 and just looking ahead to the draft. NEW ORLEANS WINS

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